JOURNAL ARTICLE

Women's access needs in maternity care in rural Tasmania, Australia: a mixed methods study

Ha Hoang, Quynh Le, Daniel Terry
Women and Birth 2014, 27 (1): 9-14
23473790

OBJECTIVES: This study investigates (i) maternity care access issues in rural Tasmania, (ii) rural women's challenges in accessing maternity services and (iii) rural women's access needs in maternity services.

METHODS: A mixed-method approach using a survey and semi-structured interviews was conducted. The survey explored women's views of rural maternity services from antenatal to postnatal care, while interviews reinforced the survey results and provided insights into the access issues and needs of women in maternity care.

FINDINGS: The survey was completed by n=210 women, with a response rate of 35%, with n=22 follow-up interviews being conducted. The survey indicated the majority of rural women believed antenatal education and check-ups and postnatal check-ups should be provided locally. The majority of women surveyed also believed in the importance of having a maternity unit in the local hospital, which was further iterated and clarified within the interviews. Three main themes emerged from the interview data, namely (i) lack of access to maternity services, (ii) difficulties in accessing maternity services, and (iii) rural women's access needs.

CONCLUSION: The study suggested that women's access needs are not fully met in some rural areas of Tasmania. Rural women face many challenges when accessing maternity services, including financial burden and risk of labouring en route. The study supports the claim that the closure of rural maternity units shifts cost and risk from the health care system to rural women and their families.

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